Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:17 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:20 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.
With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.
AP Poll Coaches Poll Harris Poll BCS
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)
Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Southern Miss
The Golden Eagles are ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 2004 in the Coaches Poll but are just "receiving votes" in the AP. Voters must not be aware of them shutting down June Jones' offense on Saturday, holding SMU to just three points and 330 yards. They're behind teams like West Virginia (blown out by Syracuse) and Arizona State (lost to Illinois, blown out by Oregon) for some reason. Yes, they're a Conference USA team so they have to fight for respect a lot more than others but they should be on everyone's ballot at 6-1.
To be fair, it's hard to figure out where to slot Nebraska because of the mediocre group of teams outside of the top 10-12 or so. The blowout loss to Wisconsin looks even worse now and having to come back and beat Ohio State is not a ringing endorsement for a top 15 team given their troubles in the passing game. We'll figure out if they deserve a high-ranking after Saturday but until then, they probably should be behind Virginia Tech and even Texas A&M.
A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.
I swear that Wilner just likes being the one in this space in order to gloat to his Bay Area compatriot Ratto. First off, teams that are on his ballot that shouldn't be: Auburn (17th), Washington (21st), Texas (23rd). Teams not on his ballot that should be: Houston, Michigan, Penn State. Also head-scratching: Auburn above USC, Kansas State 19th, Virginia Tech one spot behind Washington, Arkansas ahead of Stanford, South Carolina in the top 12, Georgia in the top 15.
What were you thinking? Desmond Conner, Hartford Courant
Conner's top 20 isn't bad at all, aside from Nebraska being ahead of both Michigan State and Wisconsin. The bottom five is disastrous however. Arizona State is 20th, followed by West Virginia, Auburn, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Penn State. He was the only voter to rank the Fighting Zookers despite losing back-to-back games to Ohio State and Purdue and has one-loss Penn State dead last on his ballot. Conner is also the only one to leave USC unranked.
Tags: ACC, AP Poll, Arizona State, Arkansas, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bryan Fischer, Coaches Poll, Conference USA, Desmond Conner, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Harris Poll, Houston, Illinois, Jon Wilner, June Jones, Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Poll Attacks, Ray Ratto, Scott Wolf, SEC, SMU, South Carolina, Southern Miss, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, Texas A&M, The Poll Attacks, USC, Virginia Tech, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 24, 2011 3:23 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
We've reached the point of the college football season where those preseason watch lists we all remember from a few months ago start to whittle down to lists of semifinalists, and today we've got the 16 remaining contenders for the Davey O'Brien Award. The Davey O'Brien Award is given out annually by the Davey O'Brien Foundation to the best quarterback in the nation, and with all the great quarterbacks we've seen so far this season, it's not easy to cut this group down.
Though when you see the 16 names who made the cut below, you'll have a hard time arguing against any of them.
Matt Barkley, USC
Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
Seth Doege, Texas Tech
Robert Griffin III, Baylor
Landry Jones, Oklahoma
Case Keenum, Houston
Andrew Luck, Stanford
Kellen Moore, Boise State
Keith Price, Washington
Denard Robinson, Michigan
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M
Darron Thomas, Oregon
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
It's a pretty nice group, and there isn't anybody in it who I'd argue should be taken out.
Tags: ACC, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Awards, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, C-USA, Case Keenum, Clemson, Darron Thomas, Davey O'Brien Award, Denard Robinson, Houston, Keith Price, Kellen Moore, Kirk Cousins, Landry Jones, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Michigan State, Mountain West, MWC, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Robert Griffin, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, SEC, Seth Doege, Stanford, Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Wilson, USC, Washington, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:53 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:02 pm
Posted by Eye On College Football
On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. With Oklahoma and Wisconsin falling from the ranks of the unbeatens, the list of national championship contenders has already begun to dwindle.
You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.
1. LSU : The Synthetic Three were not necessary for LSU to take care of business in the Battle of the Tigers on Saturday. The easy 45-10 defeat of the defending champions highlighted LSU's depth, and Les Miles' ability to circle the wagons in the midst of controversy. The suspended players are expected to return for THE GAME, which we now know will be under the lights. - Chip Patterson
2. Alabama: After crushing Tennessee with a 31-0 second-half run, the Tide are one win away from ascending to the top spot in the BCS rankings and becoming overwhelming favorites to play for their second national title in three seasons. Too bad for them that win has to come against LSU--even if it's so good for those of us who'll get to sit back and watch - Jerry Hinnen
3. Oklahoma State: Yes, Oklahoma State was already ranked first by the computers last week, but now the Cowboys are the undisputed darlings of the Big 12 with Oklahoma going down to Texas Tech. If OSU can run the table (hardly a given, but hardly out of the question), with this ranking, it's got the inside track to a BCS Championship Berth. - Adam Jacobi
4. Boise State: The bad news: Stanford and Clemson look more likely than ever to eventually leapfrog the Broncos. The good news: no one in Boise's all that worried at this point, not with two gigantic hurdles to the national title game cleared thanks to Texas Tech and Michigan State. And the Cardinal, Tigers, and Cowboys all have their toughest games still ahead of them. -JH
5. Clemson: The scariest thing about the Tigers' offense right now is the depth they highlighted in the 59-38 win over North Carolina. Twelve different skill position players got touches on Saturday, and Tajh Boyd delivered five touchdowns to five different players. But undefeated Clemson will need to survive an ACC title game (in addition to their remaining schedule) and get some help if they want to move into a position of national title contender. - CP
6. Stanford : Stanford finally got a game against a ranked opponent, and Andrew Luck and company blew Washington out of the water. The computers, not seeing the margin of victory in that game, remain unimpressed. But really, it's too early to accurately evaluate Stanford's BCS worthiness until after the Oregon game. That's the Cardinal's season, right there. - AJ
7. Oregon : The Ducks are getting healthy, and just at the right time too. The toughest part of their Pac-12 slate lies in the coming weeks, and with their only blemish being the loss to LSU, there are plenty of opportunities for Oregon to state their case as the nation's best one-loss team. Unfortunately there is likely no life after another loss for Chip Kelly's team, so every game is a must-win from here on out if they want to return to the title game. - CP
8. Kansas State: Say what you will about Kansas State's season so far, but KSU just keeps winning, and that's what pollsters and computers want to see most. A legion of difficult games remains on KSU's docket, but if Bill Snyder can guide his charges past both OSU and Oklahoma in the coming weeks, Kansas State is going to be rocketing up the list. - AJ
9. Oklahoma: Make no mistake for OU: while the Texas Tech loss was extremely damaging in a field full of undefeated teams, the dogfight has just begun. Games against Kansas State, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Oklahoma State all remain (as well as Iowa State, we suppose), and if the Sooners can run that table and get some help from the Upset Gods, they probably stand the best chance of anybody outside the SEC of being a one-loss title contender this year. - AJ
10. Arkansas: The Hogs a serious player in the national title chase and aren't likely to even make a BCS bowl this season with LSU and Alabama ahead of them in the SEC pecking order. But their visit to Baton Rouge on the final week of the regular season might represent the only serious threat to the SEC finishing the year without an undefeated team. - JH
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Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Alabama, Andre Ellington, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, BCS Formula, BCS Order, BCS Rankings, BCS Standings, BCS Standings, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bob Stoops, Bobby Petrino, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Chip Kelly, Chip Patterson, Chris Peterson, Clemson, College Football Order, College Football Rankings, College Football Standings, Dabo Swinney, Jerry Hinnen, LaMichael James, Landry Jones, Les Miles, LSU, Mike Gundy, Nick Saban, Non-BCS, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pac-12, Russell Wilson, Sammy Watkins, SEC, Stanford, Tajh Boyd, Tom Fornelli
Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
We'd like to think that even if Oklahoma had completed their failed comeback against Texas Tech, the Bayou Bengals' annihilation of a top-20 Auburn team (as opposed to a mighty struggle at home vs. an unranked team with two home losses) would finally resulted in their taking over as a consensus No. 1. But fortunately for clarity's sake, the Red Raiders finished the job. And even if Alabama wasn't on a bye themselves, that consensus wasn't going to change during LSU's off-week--the Tigers have a 49-10 advantage in first place votes in the AP, and a 41-18 edge in the Coaches.
The Crimson Tide should have passed the decisively less-impressive Sooners weeks back, but there's no doubt plenty of thanks being sent Lubbockward after the Red Raiders made the Tide's consensus move to No. 2 it official. (Then again, knowing the relationship between the Tide fanbase and Tommy Tuberville, maybe not.) What's interesting is that the Tide have enough support for a short fall in the event of a loss to LSU--the 122-point margin between the Tide and No. 3 Oklahoma State is wider than the margin between the Cowboys and No. 6 Clemson.
The Razorbacks move up two spots in both polls but find themselves in the same broad position as last week: the second-highest one-loss team behind Oregon. It's a strong show of support for the Hogs that even after an unimpressive win over Ole Miss -- one that required overcoming a 17-0 first-half deficit and a last-minute interception to preserve the victory -- Arkansas still moved past plummeting Oklahoma and Wisconsin. But as we said last week, if forced to pick between the Hogs and Ducks in a one-loss head-to-head, we think the Hogs deserve the nod.
14/14. SOUTH CAROLINA
Oh, Coaches poll. We wish there was a better explanation for jumping Kansas State past the Gamecocks on the basis of a win over Kansas and Carolina's bye week than "Oops, we kind of messed up by having that undefeated team so low last week, better fix it" ... but we know there isn't. At least Michigan State's leapfrog past the Gamecocks makes more sense. The Spartans jumped the Gamecocks in the AP, too, but Carolina stayed put thanks to West Virginia's freefall. Given that the Gamecocks' loss came to a now three-loss team at home and that their signature win is a three-point escape at Georgia, they can't have any complaints about sticking at 14th.
The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but still got a two-slot bump in the AP and leapt into the Coaches at No. 21. Guess it helps when so many bottom-rung top-25 teams -- Auburn, Illinois, Washington, Georiga Tech -- absorbed lopsided and/or embarrassing losses. But the Dawgs can't gripe about not being higher, not when their best win is still over 3-4 Tennessee.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:03 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 3:11 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 8.
WINNERS: Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson. On the eve of the 2011 season, the LSU quarterback situation was supposed to be the team's Achilles heel. The senior Lee had spent his entire career as erratic at best and a turnover machine at worst; Jefferson was suspended and might never return; and despite intense fan interest, Zach Mettenberger hadn't been able to beat either out for so much as the backup's job. But after the Tigers' demolition of Auburn, it's time to give the Bayou Bengal quarterbacks their due: not only are they not a weakness, they're a major reason LSU is 8-0 and now preparing for an undefeated megatilt against Alabama.
The stats are argument enough: a combined 16-of-23 for 219 yards (9.5 an attempt), three touchdowns, and no interceptions. (This was LSU's fifth straight game without a turnover, by the way.) But the two touchdown throws they made in the second quarter -- one by each, both of 40-plus yards, both to the rapidly-improving Rueben Randle -- are an even better argument. On the first, Jefferson was leveled by an Auburn blitzer and stood strong in the pocket to deliver Randle a precision strike; on the second, Lee "dropped it in a bucket," as they say, allowing Randle to beat double coverage. The end result was that a quarter that began 7-3 and with Auburn in a dogfight ended with LSU up 21-3 and the game over. If those two throws are examples of what LSU can expect in two weeks, even Alabama might not be good enough to beat the Tigers. At this point, it seems obvious no one else in the SEC can.
LOSER: Houston Nutt. Honestly, this isn't entirely fair to Nutt, who just coaxed the best performance from his team all season and has nothing to hang his head about, final score-wise; losing to a legitimate top-10 outfit like the Razorbacks by five points is an accomplishment, especially when the outcome is still in doubt in the final minute. Still: a 17-0 second-quarter lead over that kind of opponent -- not only one of the best teams in the country, but an opponent whose fans enjoy needling Nutt and the Rebels about their failures -- is the kind of golden opportunity that Nutt and his team simply couldn't afford to let slip through their fingers. In the end, solid performance or not, it's just Nutt's 10th straight SEC loss ... and another few before the year's end could be the end for Nutt.
WINNER: James Franklin. On the other end of the spectrum, we've got a coach for whom beating Army isn't really that big a deal ... but beating them by a comprehensive 23 points is. The Commodores had only one week of study for the Black Knights' triple option and held them to 288 total yards anyway, forcing three turnovers in the process. The 'Dore running game racked up a stout 344 yards and Vandy may have finally found a quarterback in Jordan Rodgers, who didn't set the world on fire (10-of-27, one touchdown, two interceptions) but whose 10 completions did go for better than 18 yards a pop. In short: this was the kind of performance that suggests the 'Dores 3-3 record wasn't a fluke, and that they could go bowling in Franklin's first year. It won't be enough to win him Coach of the Year with Miles and Saban around, but it's still a heck of a job.
LOSER: Drama. Another week, another series of blowouts in the SEC. Save for Arkansas's escape from Oxford, the average score of the four Week 8 games involving SEC teams was 41-13. After another week of winning their two games by some outrageous combined score -- 66 points' worth this go-round -- LSU's and Alabama's average margin of victory has ballooned to a full 30 points. It's a good thing the Tide and Tigers have next week off; not only will it give us another week to savor the buildup to the Game of the Century of the Year, but maybe it'll give us a chance to enjoy more than a single helping of competitive SEC football.
WINNERS: Alabama's receiving corps. The Tide's wideouts were alleged to be the team's one weakness entering this season, and doubly so once Duron Carter was ruled ineligible. But Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and Kenny Bell made that expectation look more ridiculous than ever in the second half Saturday night, hauling in acrobatic circus grab after acrobatic circus grab and eventually totaling 11 receptions, 213 yards, and Bell's game-clinching touchdown. AJ McCarron didn't have his best night, but Maze, Hanks, and Bell made him look awfully good all the same.
LOSERS: Auburn's special teams. The way LSU (and their quarterbacks in particular) are playing, it didn't matter what Auburn did today. But the one area where you can't show any weakness vs. Les Miles's team is in special teams, where they will kill you with field position if given the opportunity. Given the Tigers' strength in this area so far in 2011, Gene Chizik was probably expecting a draw in this phase, at least. Nope: punter Steven Clark had his worst game of the year, repeatedly failing to pin LSU deep when given the chance, and dynamic freshman kick returner Tre Mason fumbled away a second-half return to turn the game from decisive LSU advantage to full-on rout.
LOSER: Matt Simms. Ugly as Simms' final line in the box score was (8-of-17, 3.4 yards an attempt, no touchdowns, one interception), he was facing Alabama on the road; lots of quarterbacks would have looked just as bad, and Simms did play a role in getting the Vols to a 6-6 halftime tie. But Derek Dooley's decision to burn Justin Worley's redshirt late could indicate a move towards getting the freshman snaps at Simms' expense, and though he had a lot of company on the Tennessee sideline, he wasn't able to do much in preventing the Tide onslaught in the second half.
WINNER: College football. No. 1 LSU and (now consensus) No. 2 Alabama are going to meet in two weeks, both undefeated, both extremely heavy favorites to finish their regular season schedule perfect and run a way with the SEC East with a win over the other, both having established their national championship contender's bona fides weeks ago. It really, really, really shouldn't get any better than what we now know we'll see Nov. 5.
Tags: AJ McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Darius Hanks, Derek Dooley, Duron Carter, Gene Chizik, Houston Nutt, James Franklin, Jarrett Lee, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Rodgers, Justin Worley, Kenny Bell, Les Miles, LSU, Marquis Maze, Matt Simms, Ole Miss, Rueben Randle, SEC, Steven Clark, Tennessee, Tre Mason, Vanderbilt, Winners and Losers
Posted on: October 22, 2011 7:00 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
LSU WON: What suspensions? The nation's No. 1 team shrugged off the absences of Tyrann Mathieu and Spencer Ware as easily as they did their bevy of preseason distractions and suspended players, crushing Auburn under an avalanche of sacks, turnovers, and big offensive plays to the tune of Auburn's heaviest defeat of the season. While the LSU defense racked up six sacks of first-time quarterback starter Clint Moseley and held the visiting Tigers to just 249 total yards, Bayou Bengal QBs Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson combined to go 16-of-23 for 9.5 yards an attempt, 3 touchdowns, and no interceptions.
WHY LSU WON: When the game finishes 45-10, there's a lot of reasons the winning team won. But more than any other, LSU continue to thrive on the merciless efficiency of its offense when presented with scoring opportunities.
The Auburn defense wasn't completely overwhelmed in the first half, responding to an LSU touchdown drive by forcing punts on the Tigers' next three possessions. But LSU's last two drives both crossed midfield ... and both ended in 40-plus-yard touchdown tosses to Rueben Randle. For the game, LSU scored touchdowns the first five times the offense crossed midfield, not failing to capitalize on such a possession with less than six points until Drew Alleman kicked a 36-yard field goal with 13:56 to play.
LSU's all-out dominance in the realm of field position -- thanks to their turnover margin and outstanding special teams -- would make them good all by itself. Combine that field position with a ferocious defense and an offense that simply refuses to settle for field goals once they're in scoring position (the Bayou Bengals have now gotten points out of 37 of 38 red zone possessions), and you get a great team.
WHEN LSU WON: The visiting Tigers had been able to hang around throughout the first half and looked like they'd be able to hang around a bit longer when LSU faced a 3rd-and-7 on Auburn's 46 with under a minute to play. But then Lee found Randle over-the-top with his best pass of the day, and LSU took a 21-3 lead into halftime. The way John Chavis's defense was playing, that kind of lead was never going to be anything less than 100-percent safe.
WHAT LSU WON: The right to travel to Tuscaloosa in two weeks undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. Do they need anything else?
WHAT AUBURN LOST: Not many people were expecting an Auburn victory in Baton Rouge Saturday, not with LSU's top-to-bottom talent and Moseley making his starting debut. But with the Tigers having lost to Arkansas and LSU by combined 59 points, it's never been more obvious how wide the distance is between the SEC's top three teams and Gene Chizik's squad.
Posted on: October 22, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
ARKANSAS WON: For a half, it looked like Houston Nutt had his magic upset mojo working and working hard, with the Rebels dominating the line-of-scrimmage on both sides of the ball, Randall Mackey looking sharp (that's him scoring a first-half touchdown at right), and Ole Miss eventually going up 17-0 halfway through the second quarter. But from that point on it was -- almost literally -- all Razorbacks, with Tyler Wilson warming up after a scattershot first half and Dennis Johnson finding plenty of room for his biggest game of the year on the ground. Result: 29 straight Arkansas points just enough cushion to hold off the Rebels' late rally..
WHY ARKANSAS WON: Because the Rebels didn't run out of gas in the physical sense ... but they did in terms of their game-planning and innovation. Nutt's team burst out of the gate with plays designed to include any number of play-making weapons -- freshman receiver Nickolas Brassell foremost among them -- and sly misdirection that gave Mackey several easy throws. The junior former JUCO transfer responded by starting 8-of-9 and throwing the best pass of his career -- a beautiful lofted 31-yard throw to Donte Moncrief -- that gave the Rebels a 10-0 lead.
But as soon as Bobby Petrino got his team into halftime still in the game (thanks to a Johnson 53-yard touchdown run on 3rd-and-14, a major turning point), adjusted to shorten Wilson's frequent (and frequently unsuccessful) downfield throws, got Johnson going, and never looked back. Nutt and his staff deserve plaudits for their early-game approach, but once the game turned, they had no answers--as seen most clearly on a second down on their own 1-yard line, late in the third quarter, already down 24-17. With Mackey having already looked deep on first down and failed, the Rebels tried a simple sweep to the right for Jeff Scott, and the Hogs snowed it under for an easy safety. By the time Nutt and his staff reclaimed their offensive spark, it was too late.
WHEN ARKANSAS WON: The game looked well over at the 8:30 mark of the fourth quarter, with Arkansas taking over at their own 42, up 29-17, with all the game's momentum. But the Rebels forced a three-and-out, drove 80 yards for a touchdown on their ensuing possession, and then recovered an onsides kick to start at their own 43 with 1:23 in which to score the game-winning touchdown. But Mackey was sacked on first down, and threw an interception on second to end the game.
WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Not a lot of kind words from Petrino and their coaches after that start. But Johnson looked like he's ready to give the Hogs a legitimate ground game for the first time all season, and we doubt anyone in Fayetteville's going to turn down a W after staring at a 17-point hole on the road. (And that said comeback came against Houston Nutt? Well, then, all the better.)
WHAT OLE MISS LOST: the Rebels' 10th straight SEC game, a school record. It would be encouraging to stay as competitive as Ole Miss did against a top-10 team after the blowouts they've already endured this season ... except that that 17-point lead represented the kind of golden opportunity Nutt simply can't afford to blow if he's going to coach next season. His job remains on a knife edge.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 7:06 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 12:04 pm
The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, given annually to the top senior (or graduating 4th-year junior) pared its list of contenders to 10 on Wednesday. And look out: the field this season is absolutely loaded with deserving candidates. It really might be the best crop of candidates in the award's history. Here's a breakdown of all ten in alphabetical order, and whether we think each of them has a shot at taking this coveted award home.
Nick Foles, Arizona: Foles isn't going to win this award, not with Arizona struggling so badly, but his career's been better than you think. Foles is currently at 7,932 yards passing and 54 touchdowns on his career with an outside shot to hit 10,000 yards and 70 TDs before it's time for him to hang up his Wildcat helmet.
Robert Griffin III, Baylor: On statistics alone, nobody's having a better year thus far than Robert Griffin III; RG3 has gone for 142-182, 1950 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only interceptions, combining both production and efficiency better than anybody else in the field. Also, Griffin isn't just a fourth-year junior on track to graduate; he graduated after his third year at Baylor with a degree in political science, and is currently in grad school for corporate communications. Griffin is a strong contender for this award thus far.
Landry Jones, Oklahoma: It wasn't that long ago that Jones was thrust into the starting role for Oklahoma, taking over for Sam Bradford in 2009 after the returning Heisman winner suffered a major shoulder inury (twice). And yet even though Jones is slightly off his pace from his brilliant 2010 campaign, he's already over 10,000 yards on his career with 80 touchdowns (and a legitimate shot at topping triple digits there). Also, Oklahoma's undefeated with an inside track at another national championship bid.
Case Keenum, Houston: If Keenum's knee had stayed healthy in 2010 and he'd have set all those all-time career marks then, he probably would have taken home the Golden Arm award over Scott Tolzien. As it stands now, Keenum might not be a finalist for the trophy; the competition is that much better this year. Still, Keenum's on pace for more astronomical numbers, and if the voters feel like saluting a record-breaker, Keenum could definitely be in the mix here.
Andrew Luck, Stanford: It would sound pretty much derogatory to describe Luck as the pre-anointed No. 1 pick of the NFL draft, but being that some NFL fans want their teams to tank on the season in order to draft Luck (to his chagrin), it's clearly true -- and for good reason. The Stanford senior has his team undefeated and rolling thus far, and he's third in the nation in passing efficiency. If Stanford can make it to the Rose Bowl this year, look for Luck to be a finalist for this award.
Kellen Moore, Boise State: Moore has been so indispensable at QB for Boise State that it almost seems unfathomable that he won't be there next year. Moore has racked up a 44-2 record as a starter with the Broncos, and it would be a shock if he doesn't get to 50 wins for his career. Moreover, his QB play has elevated the BSU offense to judo in football form, able to skillfully counteract anything and everything a defense throws at it, and usually without undue exertion. Boise will likely need to run the table in order for Moore to have a chance to win this trophy.
Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M: Tannehill's probably not even going to be a finalist without an insane last half of the season and a Big 12 championship under his belt, but even being on this list is a heck of an accomplishment for a guy who was playing wide receiver 52 weeks ago. Tannehill's numbers in the 13 games (essentially one full season) since taking over for Jerrod Johnson? 290-440, 3355 yards, 26 TD, 12 INT. Not too shabby, but not a game-changer in this class of candidates.
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: The 28-year-old quarterback is back in Stillwater with his favorite target, Justin Blackmon, and as a result the Cowboys are undefeated and ranked fourth in the initial BCS standings, with wins over Texas, Texas A&M, and a surprising 6-1 Louisiana Lafayette already under their belt. Weeden's only ranked 17th in passing efficiency nationally (and sixth among Golden Arm Award candidates), so he's going to need to find a way to stand out from the pack.
Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: In terms of passer efficiency, Wilson leads the entire nation with a ridiculous 210.93 rating thus far. Sure, he's also got an offensive line full of mashers and an elite stable of tailbacks behind him, but numbers are numbers, and Wilson's numbers are phenomenal. It'll be interesting to see if the voters punish Wilson for his departure from North Carolina State and one-year shot with Wisconsin, but if he's on this short list of contenders, he's probably in good shape.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas: Given the slate of competitors already mentioned above, it seems pretty clear that Tyler Wilson is not winning this award. He's been doing a fine job of helping Razorback fans adjust to life without Ryan Mallett under center, at least, and with any lucky he'll be back for his senior campaign to take another run at this trophy when the field isn't quite as crowded.
Tags: Adam Jacobi, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arkansas, Baylor, Big 12, Big Ten, Big Ten, Boise State, Brandon Weeden, C-USA, Case Keenum, Golden Arm Award, Houston, Johnny Unitas, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, Kellen Moore, Landry Jones, MWC, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, SEC, Stanford, Texas A&M, Tyler Wilson, Unitas Award, Wisconsin